Home  Reviews  Articles  Calendar  Presenters  Add Event     
Choral and Vocal
TRAVELING CHORISTERS SO CO DEBUT IN TWO BIG CANTATAS
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, June 25, 2022
Opera
VERDI'S THEATRICAL LA TRAVIATA TRIUMPHS AT CINNABAR
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Symphony
CLOUDS AND PASSION: MARIN SYMPHONY'S STELLAR CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, June 19, 2022
Symphony
MARIACHI MEETS ORCHESTRA AT THE SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, June 12, 2022
Choral and Vocal
RARE MOZART COUPLING COMPLETES SONOMA BACH'S SEASON IN SCHROEDER
by Pamela Hicks Gailey
Saturday, May 28, 2022
EXOTIC RUSSIAN MUSIC FEATURED IN MV PHIL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Thursday, May 19, 2022
Symphony
SANTA ROSA SYMPHONY PREMIERES DAUGHERTY SKETCHES OF SONOMA COUNTY
by Steve Osborn
Sunday, May 8, 2022
Chamber
BRAHMS-ERA TRIOS HIGHLIGHT OAKMONT CHAMBER CONCERT
by Nicholas Xelenis
Thursday, May 5, 2022
Chamber
CHAMBER GEMS OF BRAHMS IN TRIO NAVARRO'S SCHROEDER CONCERT
by Judy Walker
Sunday, May 1, 2022
Recital
UNIQUE ELEGANCE IN GALBRAITH GUITAR RECITAL
by Gary Digman
Friday, April 29, 2022
OPERA REVIEW
Mendocino Music Festival / Friday, July 17, 2015
Allan Pollack, conductor. Chester Pidduck (Almaviva); Eugene Brancoveanu (Figaro); Nikki Einfield (Rosina); Igor Vieira (Bartolo); Dennis Rupp (Basilio); Adina Dorband (Berta)

I. Vieira E. Brancoveanu C. Pidduck N. Enflield D. Rupp A. Dorband J, Russell (N. Wilson Photo)

OPERA BUFFA HI JINX IN ROSSINI'S BARBER AT MENDO FESTIVAL

by Ken Bullock
Friday, July 17, 2015

During his July 17 lecture before the sole Mendocino Music Festival performance of Rossini’s The Barber of Seville, stage director Eugene Brancoveanu spoke of Commedia Dell’Arte. Mr. Brancoveanu, who sang the baritone title role of Figaro, alluded to the stylized clowning that is sometimes performed in the huge festival tent, and cast his eyes upward, humorously, to the top of the tent.

Beside mentioning Commedia (the comedy of craft) where lying is to tell the truth, and masked characters unmask the self, Mr. Brancoveanu pointed to the revolution Rossini effected in opera with his new treatment of vocal ornamentation in Bel Canto. “When someone hears a Rossini opera today, they’ll say it’s standard repertoire. But in his time, he was avant-garde and very controversial.”

And in a most refreshing way the Festival production brought Opera Buffa back to popular musical theater, to the delight of a nearly full house. The cast of seven played and sang with an often half-careless brilliance that almost seemed planned, and was wholly in the spirit of the Opera and Mr. Brancoveanu’s staging.

In Figaro’s famous first aria the baritone’s vocal and stage presence showed clear enjoyment of the mischievousness of the impish rogue, barber and procurer. The singing was so clever that it proved a showstopper with the audience cheering above its own applause.

Soprano Nikki Einfeld acted physically like a bored and love-crazed girl, but sang Rosina’s Una voce pocco fa with a knowing and mature voice, exciting in high melisma that continued through both acts. As Count Almaviva, tenor Chester Pidduck excelled both in the ornamental word play and the sweetness of the love songs. He acted with deft humor when disguised as a drunken soldier seeking to get free housing, and as a conspiratorial music student trying to be near Rosina.

Bass singers Igor Vieira and Dennis Rupp were convincing as Doctor Bartolo, Rosina’s overly doting guardian, and as Basilio (Mr. Rupp), the clownish clerical music teacher in cahoots with Bartolo. Mr. Vieira sang and acted brilliantly as the sourpuss that knows everyone is out to get him but quickly switched to falsetto to cruelly mimic his tormentors.

Even the minor roles were well performed. Soprano Adina Dorband as the superannuated old maid governess, stirringly sang Il vecchio cerca moglie. As the officer, James Russell doesn’t speak or sing, but had the audience in laughter trying to arrest the ersatz music student. The latter proves he is a nobleman with a gesture, and Mr. Russell joined the scene with the full cast going frozen in a tableau vivant, and where Mr. Russell’s features slowly oscillate between rubber-faced mugging and wry expressions of fear, disorientation and loathing.

The big final trio of Almaviva, Figaro and Rosina was performed elegantly.

The Opera’s four scenes ran the gamut of comic and serious emotions, and the Festival Orchestra (conducted by Allan Pollack) buoyed up the singing and occasionally soared above the vocal lines.